Energy Mapping – what it is & why you should be doing it
Being productive is hard. Being productive during a pandemic when you’re not allowed to leave your house, or see your friends, or even be at uni, is impossible. I’m sure I’m not alone in the fact that my energy levels have plummeted. I actually think they have gotten steadily worse since the first lockdown so now lockdown 3.0 is hitting me like a truck.
Over the past few weeks, I noticed that I was more behind on my schedule than usual and found myself more exhausted than ever. I felt completely drained and didn’t know how to find the motivation to do anything. On top of all of that, I felt like I was punishing myself for feeling tired! I knew something had to change so I tried a new strategy – energy mapping
Energy mapping is essentially the process of determining the pattern by which your energy levels rise and fall throughout the average day. You may have heard of ‘morning people’ and ‘night owls’ but in reality, everyone’s body has a slightly different schedule and trying to fit to the standard 9-5 just isn’t easy for a lot of people. Sometimes, you will have to do things at a time that you don’t choose, such as shifts at work or live seminars. These are unavoidable. However, since a lot of content is now asynchronous, you can do it whenever you want which means you can do it at a time when your energy naturally peaks.
So I wanted to try energy mapping and this is how I started. I did a few days of intuitive studying. Basically, I spent a couple days studying whenever I felt like I wanted to study and then spent my ‘down times’ relaxing or napping. I still focused on getting stuff done so it wasn’t as though I just decided I didn’t ‘want’ to study all day, it was more a case of if I really didn’t want to study, I didn’t force myself to. Over these few days, I noticed the trends in my energy levels. For me, I was quite productive in the morning, but only if I didn’t wake up too early and didn’t force myself straight into it without breakfast. My energy dropped a lot between around 2pm and 4pm, so I typically took a quick nap or watched some Netflix. Then I found that in the evening, I was better at doing shorter sessions of studying with more frequent breaks. Instead of doing several hours at a time like in the morning, I would do 30 mins and then a 5 minute break, for example. I also noticed that I felt better studying in the evening / night when I took the time to make a good meal and tidy round a bit at around 6-7pm.
So, once I had made a brief sketch of my energy levels, I then decided how I could maximise my productivity using this. For me, I decided it was best to do the most difficult modules in the morning (contract law!) as I could dedicate a good amount of time to it. Then I would take a break in the afternoon. After that, I would get back to work on the modules that I enjoy the most (medicine and law, constitutional law, etc.).
This energy mapping process has not only made me more productive and allowed me to finish more tasks, it has also taught me not to beat myself up about being drained of energy. At the end of the day, if I haven’t finished all the tasks I wanted to and I’m getting into bed, I can either sleep angry at myself for ‘failing’, or sleep content knowing I will try again tomorrow and I’m doing the best I can.